Disability discrimination

A general guide on how you are protected from discrimination under the Equality Act and what your rights are. Applies to England and Wales.

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Make a complaint

How can I challenge disability discrimination?

If you believe you have experienced disability discrimination, there are a number of things you can do. What is best for you will depend on the area of discrimination you have experienced, and exactly what has happened. It is generally best to try to sort it out informally if you can.

Resolve it informally

Sometimes a problem can be sorted out by speaking with the person or organisation involved, with the aim of resolving it without having to follow a formal process.

An advocate may be able to help you if you would like support in doing this. You can get more information about finding an advocate in Useful contacts.

If this doesn't resolve your problem you can move to the next step.

Use a complaints procedure

You may be able to complain through a formal complaints procedure. For example:

  • the NHS and local authority social services have complaints procedures, which allow a person to go to the Ombudsman if the complaint cannot be resolved: see our information on community care and aftercare
  • your employer may have formal grievance procedures in place for exactly this kind of situation

If this doesn't resolve your problem you could consider taking legal action.

Take legal action

If you can't resolve your problems informally or by using a complaints procedure, you may want to consider taking legal action.

Depending on who has discriminated against you, this might mean that you would:

  • complain to the Employment Tribunal
  • complain to the county court
  • bring a judicial review

Taking legal action can be stressful and expensive, so it is very important that you get legal advice from a specialist legal adviser before you do this.

See Useful contacts for more information.

How can I get help paying my legal fees?

Get legal aid

If you are on a low income, you may be able to get legal aid to pay for legal advice about your discrimination problem and for a legal adviser to represent you in court.

To find out if you can get legal aid you can contact the government’s Civil Legal Advice Service.

  • They will ask you about what money and savings you have so it is important to have that information ready when you contact them.
  • They can refer you to specialist discrimination legal services.
  • There is a useful online eligibility calculator on the Gov.uk website which you can use to see if you can get legal aid.

Check your insurance policy

It is also a good idea to check any insurance policies you have, like home contents or car insurance, as sometimes these policies also cover general legal expenses and so can be used to pay a solicitor.

Contact your union (employment-related discrimination)

If you are a member of a union at your workplace then the union may have solicitors who will offer you legal advice about your case and if necessary represent you in an Employment Tribunal. 

This information was published in July 2017. We will revise it in 2019.

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